by Hillel Fendel
Another 200 new immigrants to Israel have come home from North America, landing on their new/old home turf in Ben Gurion International Airport Tuesday morning. They were greeted by cheering crowds and government officials.
Today's was the second Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) flight this summer from North America; the first one, earlier this month, brought over 220 new olim (immigrants). NBN flights have also arrived from Great Britain, and another one will arrive this evening. A planeload of 600 new olim from France arrived last week, organized by the AMI organization dedicated to increasing French aliyah (immigration to Israel).
Among today's 200 olim were a 90-year-old World War II veteran, making Aliyah with his daughter, son-in-law and their four children. The youngest new immigrant is only four months old. On the flight were 34 families with 86 children, as well as a large group of single olim. Five dogs and three cats were also aboard, a reminder to other potential immigrants that a family pet need not present an obstacle to Aliyah. The new Israelis also number four physicians and four psychologists.
Also aboard the El Al charter flight to Israel was a 250-year-old Torah scroll originally from Cracow, Poland. The scroll survived the Holocaust by virtue of having been hidden in a library of ancient texts. It was found in 1998 by an American Jew visiting Poland, who then brought it to the U.S.; his family, making Aliyah today, has now brought it to its final resting place in Israel.
"It is extremely gratifying to witness the growth of since our first charter Aliyah flight in 2002 to our 25th flight today," said Nefesh B'Nefesh founder and Chairman Tony Gelbart. "It is exciting to help realize the hopes and dreams of so many people from diverse backgrounds to move to Israel."
A total of some 2,200 olim are scheduled to make Israel their home this summer via NBN's seven charter flights and eight regular El Al flights with groups of NBN immigrants.
By the end of 2007, NBN will have brought over 3,500 olim during the year from the US, Canada, and the UK. Aliyah from North America is expected to be a 25-year record high, following a steady climb over the past five years.
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